When people speak of the great ladies of television history -- those pioneers who did so much either on camera or behind the scenes (or both) to advance women through the decades, and whose work continues to entertain us to this day -- the usual names come immediately to mind: Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, Marlo Thomas, Bea Arthur, Valerie Harper. Oddly, though, a woman who very much belongs on that list rarely seemed to be included: Diahann Carroll, who left us last week after a long and distinguished career in entertainment that included two TV milestones -- the lead role in the 1968-71 sitcom Julia (the first comedy to feature an African American woman in the lead role who was not playing what had been known as stereotypical roles at the time) and a three-season gig on the classic primetime serial Dynasty (and its spin-off The Colbys) as the glamorous and intimidating Dominique Devereaux, whom Carroll often fondly referred to as “the first black bitch on television.”
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